In Severodonetsk, the Ukrainian army assures us that it is doing more than holding its own and that it is regaining ground. “Half the city is under the control of our defenders,” assured the governor of the Lugansk region, Sergey Gaïdaï, in an interview broadcast on social networks, specifying that they are “progressing”.

We must expect, he added, citing interceptions of communications from the Russian command, an intensification of the Russian offensive for a capture of the city “before June 10”.

“We expect that, in the near future, all the reserves to which they have access, all the machines, all the troops, will be put to work to achieve” this objective, assured the governor.

For the Russians, getting their hands on the city would prove decisive for full control of the Donbass coalfield, already partly held by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

Ukrainian resistance in Severodonetsk “will likely continue to draw the attention of Russian forces to the Lugansk region and therefore leave vulnerabilities in Russian defensive efforts in the Kharkiv region and along the southern axis”, analyzed Sunday the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Volodymyr Zelensky announced in his daily video message that he had visited his troops in Lyssychansk, a neighboring town of Severodonetsk. “We brought something to the army. I won’t talk about it in detail,” he said.

The Head of State also went to Zaporijjia, in the south of the country.

In addition to the regional authorities, he met residents of Mariupol who had managed to flee the Russian bombardments. “Each family has its own story. Most were without men,” he noted. “One’s husband has gone to war, another’s is in captivity, yet another’s, sadly, is dead. A tragedy. No home, no love. But we must live for the children. Real heroes, they are among us”.

If the fighting is concentrated in the south and east, particularly in Severodonetsk, “kyiv remains the main objective of the Russian occupier”, Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Malyar assured local media on Sunday, also asking for a “constant support” from the West.

The Ukrainian capital was indeed hit by several Russian strikes on Sunday morning, for the first time since the end of April.

Moscow says it targeted a freight car repair workshop in the south-east of kyiv, 10 km from the city center, and destroyed there armored vehicles supplied to Ukraine by Eastern European countries.

“High-precision, long-range missiles fired (…) at the outskirts of kyiv destroyed T-72 tanks supplied by Eastern European countries and other armored vehicles that were in hangars “said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.

This was denied by Ukrainian officials and witnesses on the spot.

“This is another example of Russian-made falsification to justify this brutal war against Ukraine,” Serhii Leshchenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian railway company’s supervisory board, told AFP.

– Defeat in Cardiff –

In the evening, AFP was able to see the destruction of several hangars and a large crater caused by a shell, while firefighters were still trying to control a small fire.

On Rossiya-1 television, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened further strikes on “sites which we have not targeted so far”, if the West supplies long-range missiles to Ukraine, which which he says aims to “prolong the conflict”.

This warning did not prevent London from announcing Monday the delivery to kyiv of rocket launchers with a range of 80 kilometers (M270 MLRS), coming in addition to the American Himars, rocket launchers mounted on light armored vehicles, the same scope, promised last week by Washington.

Sunday evening, on another ground, the national team lost 1-0 in Cardiff against Wales, thus failing to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar.

Galvanized by a flag signed by soldiers from the front hanging on the wall of their locker room, the blue and yellow have all the ingredients to win this match: desire, combat, technique, tactics. All but one: efficiency. “I think we did everything we could but (…) we’re sorry we didn’t score (…), that was the biggest obstacle,” admitted coach Oleksandr Petrakov in press conference.